In earlier days we understood that we were simply a part of the earth. We knew we were only one small part. Now many think humans are the greatest and most important part. But still, we are only a part of the earth, only a part of nature, only a child of Mother, only a part of Spirit. We used to know respect of Nature and killed only what we ate and used only the skins of what we killed and ate. We did not waste life nor disrespect spirits but honored and thanked them for providing us with life, nourishment, and comfort.”
“In earlier days we used to recognize and pay our respects to the power of the animal spirits. We wore skins and masks, we sang and prayed to specific animals. We painted the animals on our homes and death chambers, and asked the Spirit to guide us and bless the animals we killed, we honored the spirit of our prey. These acts linked us to our animal guides and reminded us that all animals, were our sisters, brothers, and cousins and most importantly our teachers and our friends. It reminded us that we too are animals with spirit,” said Gray Cloud to Tess, with solemnity. He watched the girl closely, she wasn’t missing a word. Not too far from them was Lone Hawk, listening attentively too.
“Each animal has it's own special power and message, for each animal has a powerful spirit and its own skill. Animal Spirits choose a person to be their companion and their friend, not the other way around. The animal will choose you and make itself known to you.”
“Like my Wolf?” asked Tess, while petting the big creature’s mane. She was resting on his warm fur, her little hands playing with its ears, as the powerfull animal dozed on, not bothered by her touch.
“Yes,” smiled the old indian. “Like your wolf, and your cougar and eagle. Only that they are not yours. You are as much theirs as them yours. They’ve chosen you, to teach you, to guide and help you. It’s a great blessing, but a great responsibility too. Having an animal totem means that you have lessons to learn and a powerful spiritual friend.”
At this Tess nodded, open eyed. She understood this, young as she was, her animals communicate with her, and although sometimes she didn’t understand them, she knew that she had much to learn. They had helped her too, like when she had fallen in the brook and couldn’t get out.
“Animals come to us because they have a lesson we need to learn, a power they are willing to share with a friend,” continued the Shaman. “The animals remind us that we are part of the earth; that each creature has a place; that each creature has a skill of it's own; that we have instincts given to us from Mother, wisdom born to us that we must awaken.”
“Skills… like my talking to animals?” asked the girl again, she was old enough now to know that not everybody could talk to animals like she did.
“That’s your skill, that’s your blessing. You have to use it wisely, that’s your responsibility.” At the confused look in the girl’s eyes, Gray Cloud added. “The Animal Totem that comes to you offers you power and wisdom if you will learn to communicate with it, with respect, trust, and understanding. Developing a relationship with a live animal totem takes time, practice, patience and could be very dangerous.”
“Wolf would never hurt me,” pouted Tess, embracing the big beast, who raised his head to look at the Shaman, sensing Tess’ distress.
“I never said he would, but you could hurt him. That’s what I meant when I talked about responsibility. Mistakenly people often think of animals as non-spiritual, uncultured, and less intelligent than humans. Some people do not even think animals have Spirit. And as beings with spirit, you can hurt them, not only physically but spiritually. When an animal chooses to follow you to the human world, you have the responsibility of protecting him as well.”
Hearing the Shaman, Tess embraced her beloved Wolf even more closely, promising him that she would always take care of him. After the incident at the brook, the beast had left the forest to dwell with the natives, always around the little girl. The beast licked the girls face to make her tickle, promising her that he would always be with her too.